TAMPA, Fla. — The images coming from the panhandle of Florida are heart-wrenching and many people want to help victims after Hurricane Michael.
Roofs were lifted off homes, a high school gym was gutted and shopping centers were leveled.
"We know that Americans are generous, they want to do everything they can to help,” said Rachel Nelson, the Regional Marketing Director for the American Red Cross.
Rachel Nelson with the American Red Cross says the number one goal now is keeping victims alive.
"What they need is shelter, food and water,” she said.
It’s why cash donations are ideal and allows the Red Cross to spend the money in the areas directly impacted to help re-stimulate their economies.
Red Cross volunteers left Thursday to deliver warm meals as soon as possible.
"There’s nothing more rewarding, you go to sleep at night and you know you have given 500, 600 people a hot meal, you’ve given them some level of hope,” said Louis Abilock, a volunteer at the American Red Cross.
The Better Business Bureau says if you’re looking to donate actual items you need to make sure the charity is trusted and has the infrastructure and ability to distribute the donations properly. Also, new items are preferred.
"Unfortunately a lot of things that come in that are very well-meaning are items that are soiled or unusable or broken, outdated. And those are just not helpful to anyone,” said Nelson.
The BBB says charities can be checked and donations can be written off on tax returns but crowdsourcing sites can’t always, which is why they tell people to be wary of people asking for money or donations online.
You can also donate to the Salvation Army, their number is 1-800-725-2769. You can also donate online .
To research certain charities, here are three websites you can try: